A bill currently making its way through the U.S. Congress could change the legal landscape for plaintiffs in personal injury and malpractice cases. Known as the Fairness in Class Action Litigation and Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act, it was passed by a margin of 220 to 201 in the House of Representatives and is likely to reach the Senate soon. Along with the provisions intended to limit the ability of individuals to recover damages, the action also requires trusts that administer payments to asbestos victims to publish the names and addresses of these recipients on a quarterly basis.

Limiting the Ability of Consumers to Collect Damages

The primary focus of the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act is to restrict the ability of individuals to qualify to take part in a class action lawsuit. In essence, the provisions of the Act require that each participant proves that he or she has the same degree of injuries as all others accepted to the class. This is nearly impossible to establish in some cases.

• For example, car accidents caused by a manufacturing defect can cause a broad range of injuries that can be tough to compare.
• Pharmaceutical products can cause different and varied medical issues for patients using the same drug at the same dosage.

The Act also includes provisions that will reduce the ability of attorneys to collect on settlements achieved through the class action process. Proponents of the bill argue that the current system allows too many individuals with only minor claims or claims that skew the damages much higher for all parties to the class action. Opponents, on the other hand, note that the new requirements will make it much harder for class actions to attract the number of plaintiffs needed to take on corporate wrongdoers.

Veterans Groups Object to FACT Act

At least 18 veterans’ groups have come out against the FACT Act, noting that it will release personally identifiable information about veterans who have been harmed by asbestos and who receive payments for these injuries. By publishing their names, addresses and a portion of their Social Security numbers every quarter, the FACT Act will potentially increase the vulnerability of those negatively affected by asbestos exposure. Since many of those who receive payments as a result of these exposures are veterans, this could present a serious issue for individuals who served the U.S. with honor in the past.

The bill must still go through the process of Senate approval before being signed into law. For those who have are injured in accidents caused by the negligence of corporate entities, seeking help from a qualified legal team can provide the support needed to participate in a class action suit against these corporations. At Risman & Risman, we focus on providing residents of New York with the most comprehensive employment law and anti-discrimination representation services. Call us today at 212-233-6400 to set up a free consultation. We look forward to the chance to serve your legal needs.

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